Yeast research as we know it will end with the solving of the organism on April 1, 2007, give or take 8.37 days. So said Mark Johnston, president of the Genetics Society of America, presenting on the future of the model organism at the biannual Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology meeting this past month in Seattle. In combing through the Yeast Proteome Database, he found that so-called known yeast genes have followed a remarkably linear upward trajectory, reaching 4,679 as of the end of July of this year. A continuation of that trend, says Johnston, of Washington University in St. Louis, will mean that the organism's 6,000 genes will be known by April Fool's Day 2007.

The prediction has inherent flaws and implied cheek. Budding grad students need not fear; even a 'known' gene can still be pretty mysterious. The University of Toronto's Tim Hughes put things into perspective; he...

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